Tag Archives: AMC’s The Walking Dead

Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2015 Edition: 54-51

21 Mar

Our first comedy of the rankings shows up along with three cable dramas that only have the potential of conspiracy in common.

Intro here and 58-55 here.

54. True Detective – 2014: 21

True Detective

Thousands of words have been spilled over the disappointing second season of True Detective, some by me, and I’m not sure I have more to add; one-dimensional characters, frustrating plot choices, and misguided casting, let to a somewhat sad season of television. It’s not lower than this because it was strangely ambitious in a way other bad shows aren’t; Flash and Arrow failed on a lower percentage of what they tried, but True Detective tried way more. There was something interesting enough in the failure of True Detective to probably ensure I’d watch another season, but that doesn’t make it a success. Recently, this past season of True Detective made me think of the Star Wars prequels; unquestionably failures, but, especially compared to The Force Awakens, surprisingly ambitious failures which actually really went for it.

53. Community – 2014: 10

Community

The Yahoo! Screen (and points if you remember that Yahoo!’s short-lived video service was called Yahoo! Screen) season of Community really made me sad. It’s fair to say I had no right to be disappointed by the season, consider how up-and-down Community has been over the years, and considering the turmoil behind-the-scenes including the cast changes and the new network. Still, it was one of the more disappointing seasons of TV I can remember considering what a special place Community has held in my heart at times, and considering this was going to be its likely last impression (unless they actually get around to that movie). There were fleeting glimpses of what made Community great; but they were gobbled up by so much mediocrity, poor choices, reused plots, unbalanced character usage, overdone jokes and just a seeming running out of ideas. The fifth season, upon reflection, I found to be better than I had believed initially; with the sixth, it’s sadly the opposite. There’s way too much Dean, a side character elevated to a larger role than his character could handle, and again just rehashing and overusing what worked well when done subtly and in moderation. Quite simply, the magic was gone.

52. Orphan Black – 2014: 25

Orphan Black

Orphan Black post-Season 1 is a bit of a mess rendered worth viewing simply due to the powers of Tatiana Maslany. The plot was clearly put together with only one season in mind and since then there have had to be incomprehensible secret organization on top of incomprehensible secret organization on top of incomprehensible secret organization to prevent the Clone Club from finding all the answers, past the point where it makes all that much sense. Fortunately through for Orphan Black, the show has a sense of humor, which many shows in this tier (see: House of Cards, AMC’s The Walking Dead) lack, especially in regards to the generally enjoyable Alison plotlines. Orphan Black is hardly appointment television; but I don’t think I’ll be giving it up just yet because I like the clones enough to eventually catch up, even if that means on a lazy Saturday weeks after the episodes have aired.

51. AMC’s The Walking Dead – 2014: 34

The Walking Dead

I’m in a strange place with AMC’s The Walking Dead. Objectively, this has been one of, if not the single strongest year in the show’s existence. It’s hardly spectacular; but the year is notable more for the absence of the bigger problems that plagued swaths of AMC’s The Walking Dead past; glacial pacing, bringing the Governor back well past his due date, focus on the wrong characters, young Carl. AMC’s The Walking Dead has never been a great show but it’s had spurts of promise that have always, until now, kept me watching, and on paper, this past year would certainly appear to be composed largely of such spurts. Subjectively though, while I recognize the show is actually in a fairly solid place, for whatever it’s worth, I simply seem to have a case of AMC’s The Walking Dead fatigue. I’m just tired of the show. The novelty and the fun have worn on me, and while the plot changes, I’ve felt some sense of sameness that has been grating on me over the seasons. Several times in the past couple of months I planned to put on an episode, just to realize I really didn’t want to watch one. Will I ever get back to it, or will I simply fade away from the show? Tune into next year’s rankings to find out.

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Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2014 Edition: 35-32

4 Feb

One first year show, two second year shows, and one extremely popular cable show now in its fifth season. Let’s take a look.

Intro here and 43-40 here and 39-36 here.

35. Masters of Sex – 2013: 22

Masters of Sex

Masters of Sex, one of 2013’s most promising debuts, took a step back in its sophomore season. Still a generally enjoyable show, the delights rested even more heavily on the substantial acting talents of Michael Sheen and Lizzie Kaplan. Lack of focus was the critical issue; the plot darted back and forth and couldn’t make up its mind about any direction for the season. This included a bizarre several year time jump in the middle of the season that didn’t add a whole lot while being needlessly confusing and incongruous. Poor Caitlin Fitzgerald, as Masters’ long-neglected wife is stuck with will-intended side plots that don’t completely fail but also don’t work as well as the show wants them to. There are certainly positives to be found here; the pleasant surprise of the season was the coupling of Masters and Johnson cameraman Lester with an equally damaged new character Barbara played by Breaking Bad’s Betsy Brandt. Overall I don’t feel the same enthusiasm I felt after the first season and am not recommending the show as thoroughly. That said, there’s hope; there’s no plot or character bridge that’s been crossed that should irreparably damage the show going forwards. It’s time for the writers to sit back, take stock, and really think the next season through before moving forwards.

34. AMC’s The Walking Dead – 2013: 35

AMC's The Walking Dead

AMC’s The Walking Dead is one of the more inconsistent shows on television – so much so that it’s inconsistently inconsistent. There’s a good half season, then a terrible episode, then a good two episodes, then a bad six episodes, a good A plot, a terrible B plot, and then a great C plot. To their credit, after a predictably wildly uneven second half of the fourth season, which dedicated whole episodes to different groups of characters separated for a period of time after the destruction of their prison home, the first half of the fifth season may have been the best block of episodes in the show’s run. It’s, unsurprisingly, not perfect, but the characters are better developed. Early seasons featured Rick and a bunch of thinly drawn compatriots. Now, nearly a dozen characters feel like they have distinct personalities and motivations. Even when the messaging is occasionally mind-numbingly unsubtle, the characters have at least earned a greater sense of investment. You still never know when AMC’s The Walking Dead will lay an egg, and the midseason finale left something to be desired, but overall, I look forward to the show more than I have in a couple of years.

33. The Affair – 2013: Not eligible

The Affair

Showtime’s The Affair is a solid new entrant into the premium cable universe. It’s a show that I watch and will watch again when it comes back but which I’m not quite sold on enough going forwards to freely recommend it to others. The unusual format and lack of traditional genre are the show’s two strongest selling points. We get to see a series of events from both the male and female protagonists’ perspective. These are Noah and Alison, the two participating in the titular affair, and the show deftly plays with memory and point of view. Both recount the events of their summer affair on Long Island differently in sometimes small but telling ways. Smartly, it’s not just plot and dialogue that change between the two accounts, but rather the entire look and feel. The Affair is both a character study and a murder mystery. While I spent much of the first few episodes trying to pin down what the show was trying to be, I’m not sure I even know at this point, but the unusual genre combination actually works. The weaker points of The Affair are the characters themselves; they lack depth and their motivation is often murky and not always entirely believable. Ruth Wilson has that accent that no actually American person has that some foreigners put on. The Affair is intriguing and I enjoy it, but it’s a few steps from greatness.

32. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D – 2013: 44

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

I was just about ready to give up on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. last spring, especially when I had to take a sabbatical from the show because, in both an ingenious and an incredibly irritating bit of Marvel Cinematic Universe synergy, you had to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier to follow along past a certain point in the first season. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have come back to the show at all, which I was completely and thoroughly sick of, if not for the prodding of a couple of friends who assured me that the show picked up after the crossover. Calling me skeptical was an understatement. I was willing to believe the show got better, because that was a low bar, but I found it hard to believe the show could improve to the point I could be really interested in it again. I was wrong though. The events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier presaged a fundamental shift in the premise of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. which basically changed the show in every way for the better. While it’s not Breaking Bad or The Wire level of quality, it’s surprisingly hard to overstate just how much better the show has been since that crossover. The show has finally become a fun watch, in the vein of the better Marvel Cinematic Universe properties, and I hope it continues to grow in this direction.